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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

Skye O'Malley

by Bertrice Small

 

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Summary

This is the first book in a series of historical romance novels by Bertrice Small known as the Skye O'Malley Family Saga. In it, a 16th-century Irish woman named Skye O'Malley comes of age and faces the harsh realities of being a woman in a male-dominated world.

Skye O'Malley

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

Skye O'Malley

Author

Bertrice Small

ISBN

0-345-32364-5

Publisher

Ballantine Publishing Group

Category

Historical Romance Novel

Rating

StarStarStarStar

Number of Pages

461

Published In

1980

 

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Description

This is a romance novel which relates the adventures of a woman named Skye O'Malley during the era of Queen Elizabeth of England in the 1500's. Skye herself grows up in Ireland. The book takes the reader from Skye's childhood home in Ireland to Elizabeth's Tudor court in England to Algeria, and back to England. She becomes notorious as a pirate, finds herself in love with a man who runs a house of prostitution in Algeria, and crosses swords (figuratively) with Queen Elizabeth herself.

The author has clearly done extensive research on the historical era in which she has set her book. She seamlessly incorporates real-life historical figures such as Queen Elizabeth and real historical events into her story line. The heroine of the book, Skye O'Malley, is portrayed as a very strong, independent, intelligent, but passionate individual.

The reason I've included a review of this book on my web site is that part of it is set in a house of prostitution in Algeria. I don't want to give away too much of the plot by telling you what goes on there, but suffice it to say Skye has an opportunity to taste the mysterious-to-her world of an Ottoman outpost.

Like most romance novels, this book definitely contains some sex scenes. However, its scenes are more frequent and more explicit than those I've seen in romance novels by other authors. Although these scenes didn't bother me, readers who prefer books to be less, um, passionate probably wouldn't appreciate this one. Skye is one lusty woman, and the author treats us to many detailed reports of her love life.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You enjoy historical fiction.
  • You enjoy romance novels.
  • You would enjoy the author's affection for offering detailed descriptions of the women's fashionable attire.
  • You like books with strong, intelligent heroines who manage to emerge from horrible experiences even stronger.

 

This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You would be triggered by scenes in which a man forces himself on the heroine.
  • You don't particularly like books with many explicit sex scenes, some in which the heroine is forced.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • The lead character is strong, likeable, and intelligent.
  • Bertrice Small clearly did extensive research when preparing this book. Although I certainly would not encourage anyone to think of a romance novel as being a legitimate source of historical or cultural information, I nonetheless was impressed at Small's use of historical detail in this book.
  • Some romance novels have plots so simple that by page 10 or so you know exactly what is going to happen throughout the rest of the book. In contrast, Skye O'Malley's plot was certainly not simple. It introduced a variety of characters, and took them through many twists and turns.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Bertrice Small sometimes puts her heroines through excessive amounts of hell. Sometimes, reading one of her books makes me want to shout, "Enough already! Please, let this character have some happiness and peace of mind for a change!" There were times when this book provoked that reaction in me.

 

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Conclusion

This book is full of explicit sex and violence, including sexual assault of the heroine. And yet, the character development of Skye (the heroine) herself is so compelling that I found myself absorbed by the book, losing track of time as I was reading. On the surface, it doesn't sound like the kind of book I'd enjoy, and yet I was engrossed. That said, if you would find that sort of sexualized violence triggering, then I wouldn't recommend this book for you.

Skye's stay in Algeria serves up a taste of the exotic. Some readers would cringe at seeing Africa used in this way, while others would probably devour it eagerly. Although it was not the bulk of the story, it was a substantial enough part of the plot to spark interest in readers us who enjoy discovering books that are set at least partly in the Middle East or North Africa. I found this to be good "airplane reading" — in other words, something entertaining that could absorb my attention fully enough to make a long airplane ride pass more quickly.

This book is the first in a series of many books. If you find you like it, there are many sequels available to carry you forward.

 

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Related Books

After finishing this book, if you'd like to read other books by Bertrice Small presenting other adventures in the Middle East and North Africa, there are many available to keep you reading for some time to come. Here is the order I would suggest reading them in, with links (when available) to reviews of them elsewhere on this web site:

  • The Kadin. This was Bertrice Small's first book, and everything else follows it. It is the first in the Leslie Famly series, sometimes called the Cyra Hafisa series.
  • Skye O'Malley. This is the first book in a series about a strong woman named Skye O'Malley and her extended family. Her adventures take her to Algeria at one point.
  • All The Sweet Tomorrows. This is the sequel to Skye O'Malley. Although I was a bit disappointed with this book, I would still recommend that if you liked Skye O'Malley enough to read more in the series, then you should read this before the others. Otherwise, you'll find some of the references to past events and characters in the later books confusing. Part of it takes place in Algeria and Morocco.
  • A Love For All Time. This one comes third in the Skye O'Malley family of books. Part of it takes place in Turkey, and it makes some references to characters who were originally introduced in The Kadin.
  • Love Wild And Fair. This is the sequel to The Kadin and part of the plot takes place in Turkey. It is the second in the Leslie Famly series, sometimes called the Cyra Hafisa series.
  • This Heart Of Mine. I don't plan to review this one for my site, because the heroine's adventures take her to India, which falls outside my geographical scope. But if you've enjoyed the other books about Skye's family so far, you'll want to read this one, which is number four in the series.
  • Lost Love Found. Bertrice Small takes you back to Turkey in this one, the fifth book in her story about Skye O'Malley and her family. Don't tackle this one unless you've read everything above. I made that mistake, and felt entirely confused at all the flashbacks explaining what had gone before.
  • Wild Jasmine. This is the natural sequel to This Heart Of Mine. I don't plan to review this one for my site, because the heroine's time outside of Europe takes place in India, which falls outside the geographic scope that I focus on for this web site. But if you're hooked on the Skye O'Malley series, you'll want to read this one, which is the sixth book in the series.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone associated with this book.


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